Students ‘think big’ in third annual Young Inventors contest
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Whatever you’re thinking… think BIGGER!

No problem! How about a bracelet that scans food for allergens? Or, a disposable travel toothbrush with toothpaste built into the handle? Perhaps a pencil cap that doubles as a sharpener or a TV remote that can never be “lost?” Afraid of getting a shot at the doctor’s office? Then, a nifty friendly-looking sleeve that fits over a syringe might be in order.

The inventions were many and the ideas were limitless in the 2016-17 Young Inventors contest for middle school students in Livonia and Westland.

Finding creative solutions for life’s challenges, or making life just a little easier and safer, emerged as themes in the Young Inventors contest, which drew more than 600 entries from students in Livonia Public Schools, Clarenceville Community Schools and Wayne-Westland Community Schools.

Sponsored by the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, Alpha USA, NYX, Livonia AM Rotary Club, Livonia Public Schools, Wayne-Westland Community Schools, Schoolcraft College, Livonia Kids and Families and Dave and Busters, the recent Young Inventors Showcase allowed 29 finalists to describe their inventions for the crowd of proud parents, business and community leaders.

Mentor Dave Bailey, a leading engineer at Fiat Chrysler, encouraged the students to keep inventing and keep dreaming.

“My dream was to become an engineer at Chrysler,” Bailey told the crowd at the Showcase event, held at the VisTaTech Center at Schoolcraft College. “I followed my dream, and I’m here to show that you can be all that you want to be. If you follow your passion and your dream, you’ll get there.”

Dan West, president of the Livonia Chamber of Commerce, talked about the program and its significance.

“This program is the third annual community-wide effort by local business and education leaders from our area, as a way to get young people to think about the types of careers that might interest them,” said West.  “It is our hope that these students look at the high-demand, skilled and technical careers. Many local companies are in immense need of workers who have training and experience in technical and skilled trades – now and in the future.

“With this Young Inventors effort, we are supporting our employers by inspiring young people in our community to explore a passion for building things. This is good for our area, and the economy, because it gives young people the opportunity to start and build careers in their hometown.”

David Lawrence, chief administrative officer at the Livonia-based manufacturing company Alpha USA, said the future is bright for students in our area.

“We work in a region where there are a lot of companies that make things,” said Lawrence. “At Alpha USA, we make things every day. We’re going to need that next generation of workers to build things with us. All of the people here today are here because they know how important you are. We at Alpha USA hope one day that you’re right alongside us, building things. You are the next generation of builders.”

Finalists in the Young Inventors contest:


Emerson Middle School: Emily Kostik, Nick Parisi (second place for Emerson), Eric Polzin and Ryan Taylor (first place for Emerson).

Frost Middle School: Evan Berry, Zoe Hajec (second place for Frost), Danny Jakubowski (first place for Frost), Francesca Oprea and Ethan Riddle.

Holmes Middle School: Tommy Cormier, Maija Johnson (second place for Holmes), Emily Komopka, Isabella Nosakowski (first place for Holmes) and Edmond Riza.


Clarenceville Middle School: Mihai Jurju, Grace Patterson (second place for Clarenceville), Ariana Smith, Kaitlyn Vallimont (first place for Clarenceville) and Adrianna Williams.


Franklin Middle School: Megan Fauls, Duane Ponder, Emmanuel Salazar, Steven Smith (first place for Franklin) and Gage Waterkamp (second place for Franklin).

Stevenson Middle School: Jillian Downey (first place for Stevenson), Colton Hardin, Manar Hameed (second place for Stevenson), Garrett Lisinski and Lily Peter.


First Place: Steven Smith (Franklin Middle School – Wayne-Westland) for StevenBrush, a disposal toothbrush with toothpaste in the handle.

Second Place: Jillian Downey (Stevenson Middle School – Wayne-Westland) for Needle Concealer, a colorful sleeve to cover a syringe at the doctor’s office.

Third Place: Ryan Taylor (Emerson Middle School) for the R.T. Translator, a tiny, wearable computerized language translator.